The Barnacle: A hidden Miami gem

Yesterday I woke up with the urge to explore. I’ve never been good at sitting still and I swear I am driven by wanderlust. Being 7 months pregnant, hopping on a plane isn’t exactly an option for me. So instead of moping around the house, I decided to get out and explore Miami.

When I first moved here, I was never inside. I was intent on discovering all the nooks and crannies of this city. I used to blog pretty heavily about my adventures until I started commuting crazy hours for work.

One of the places I’d never been is the Barnacle State Park and I’ve always been curious about it. So off I went!

The Barnacle was built in 1891, when much of Miami was still covered in hammocks (the tropical forests, not the woven swings.) As you wander back in to the park, you walk through what remains of the Miami Hammocks in Coconut Grove. The live oaks, strangler figs, palms and other native growth intertwines above the path, creating a shady walkway with Spanish Moss gently flowing above you. The hustle and bustle of Coconut Grove quickly melts away and is replaced by the sounds of wind through the trees.

Barnacle State Park Hammocks walkway

The walkway to the Barnacle State Park in Coconut Grove

As the path drew to an end, I found myself approaching Ralph Munroe’s home, built in 1891. There are several other historic homes in Miami, but this one is the oldest home in the county that still stands in its original location. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to go in, as you can only go inside as part of a tour, but I did take the opportunity to sit out on the porch and appreciate the bay view and the cool breeze.

House at the Barnacle State Park

The view of the Barnacle House from the park entrance.

View from the Barnacle House

My view from the Barnacle House Porch. Look at that perfect sky and bay view!

Barnacle House from the bay

The view of the Barnacle House from the bay end of the property. There’s obviously a bit of renovation going on.

Once I caught my breath (lugging around an extra 30 pounds of babies and placentas is exhausting), I meandered down through that green yard towards the bay. Along the way I passed families playing and couples picnicking. At the end of the property is the old boathouse and a dock that’s referred to as the “Railway to Nowhere.”  The name came from the fact that Munroe used marine railways to bring boats out of the water so he could work on them. Otherwise there was no other way to transport boats.

You see, Munroe was a yacht designer, so he needed access to the bay. The boathouse was actually his first home on the property – built in 1886.  He lived upstairs and worked downstairs. This is actually not the original building – it was rebuilt after a hurricane destroyed the original boat house in 1925.

Barnacle Boat House

The replica of the original boat house.

Railway to Nowhere

The Railway to Nowhere – Ralph Munroe’s mechanism for pulling boats out of the water. AKA the original boat ramp!

Barnacle State Park dock.

The dock, jutting out in to Biscayne Bay, is closed to foot traffic. More than likely to keep people from jumping in for a swim on hot days.


I definitely enjoyed this park. It’s not especially big – which is perfect for me at this point – but it’s pretty, calm and not too far off the beaten path. Admission is only $2 and totally worth it. My only caveat is it’s probably easier to go on a week day, or early on weekends so you don’t have to fight for parking in the grove.


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